25 February 2008

Higher and Higher

If you lost your Oscar pool because of me, I am truly sorry. I was floored that Cotillard won the Oscar... and yet, I still really enjoyed her speech. The benefit of an upset is that you get a reaction that's so raw and real -- Tilda Swinton's also cracked me up. I was moved by many of the speeches last night, even from those who had a long time to prepare (and by "those" I mean "Daniel Day-Lewis"). To see people find out they've received an award tantamount to ascending the pinnacle of their profession, live before the world -- well, it's inspiring. Not to mention the amazing sibling duo of the Coen Brothers, who made me want to call my siblings and see if any of them want to be in an Awesome Auteur Association.

Which brings me to today's topic, as suggested by commenter NetFlixer, of inspirational books. I'm not sure if you could properly shelve these in the "Inspirational" section of a bookstore, but here are some titles that, for me personally, have made me want to change my life in some way:

Mark Salzman, LOST IN PLACE: GROWING UP ABSURD IN SUBURBIA. I first read this book when I was 15, and I wish I could go back in time and give it to my 13-year-old self. Salzman's memoir describes his life as a teenage misfit, into kung fu and cello to ridiculous degrees, and never really finding his niche. His always funny and occasionally disastrous adventures motivated me to keep plugging away at what I like even though no one else may know or care about it.

Lauren Winner, GIRL MEETS GOD. This is the only book I think could be recognized as "inspirational," but I drew a rather unconventional lesson from it. Winner writes about her conversion as a young adult to orthodox Judaism, and her subsequent conversion to Christianity which surprised her more than anyone. The way in which she describes this religious journey is so poignant and powerful -- the way she searches and searches for the point she's reached by the end of the story, not satisfied with her answers but continuing to look for deeper enlightenment. I'm not a religious person, but there's something very striking and beautiful about her search that I think crosses denominational lines.

Natalie Goldberg, WRITING DOWN THE BONES. This one goes out to the writers, although the author says her tips could be applied to any occupation. Since I was 13 or 14 and started to think of writing as being "what I do," in some sort of cosmic identification, I have read a lot of books on writing. Some are super; some annoyed me; some I couldn't even finish. But I always go back to this one because of the quality of Goldberg's prose and the soundness of her advice. Her philosophy on writing is based on her practice of Zen Buddhism, but not in such a way that would exclude those of us who don't practice it. I love this book so much, I even have two copies -- a regular-sized one that sits on my shelf and a pocket-sized one for travel. If you like writing, if you ever wanted to be a writer... read it.

Thanks for the comment! Yes, we do take suggestions at Casa de Wormbook, unless the suggestion is "stop reading so much." Coming up this week: the US Weekly of the '30s, my new favorite tech book and a Filmbook entry which will scandalize your relatives.


Jess said...

My favorite part was Cate Blanchett's reaction of what appeared to be genuine, happy shock when Tilda Swinton won. She actually jumped in surprise. It was so cool.

Trish J said...

Girl Meets God- probably one of my least favorite books of all time and yet I read it All and THOROUGHLY!! I just never can relate to the little poor frail female who can't "find herself" and has to look to men or religion. I guess I just don't respect the whole "throwing yourself into a religion", in some way, it seems so fakey, and then when it just wasn't for her...on to the next religion. I think religion and people's beliefs need to be respected and like a solemn pool of water, should be slowly waded into -- not jumped into!!

(WOW, I hurt my brain on that one!!!!)

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